I am delighted to announce that work of Pontifex University faculty member, Deborah Samia has been selected for the international tour of “Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms” curated by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.
This is the first comprehensive traveling exhibition devoted to Norman Rockwell’s depictions of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. It illuminates both the historic context in which FDR articulated the Four Freedoms and the role of Rockwell’s paintings in bringing them to life for millions of people, rallying the public behind the War effort.
Illustration is often seen as a low art and is used as a pejorative term by modernist abstract or conceptual artists for those that try to depict the figure more naturalistically. I take the opposite view. The highest art is that which illustrates - or illuminates - well the highest truths. The greatest art ever created therefore is an illustration - or illumination - of the mysteries of Faith and of scripture. Rockwell is an immensely skilled artist who was depicting ordinary scenes in American life, but he did so in such a way that he communicated the spirit of the age in a way that affirmed the positive aspects of the human person. Give Rockwell over Pollack, Rothko or Andy Warhol any day of the week.
In addition to his celebrated paintings of the Four Freedoms, the exhibition put together by the Rockwell Museum brings together numerous other examples of artwork by both Rockwell and a broad range of his contemporaries—from J.C. Leyendecker and Mead Schaeffer, to Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks, among artists of today.
Deborah has reinterpreted the four works by Rockwell to reflect a greater ethnic diversity of the United States today, while stressing, she told me, the common element that unites all, that they are Americans. The artworks are wall hangings with a 3D relief, 11”x14”x2” Hydrocal Plaster, and Fiberglass.
Before I show Deborah's relief sculptures, followed by the Rockwell originals, here is a portrait sculpture by Deborah which is more indicative of the style that she teaches in her class. Deborah's online course is part of the Master of Sacred Arts program and is one of the online studio courses and is an Introduction to Sculpting the Figure.
Below are the works of Deborah and the Rockwell originals.
I would say that the freedoms of Roosevelt are noble aims for the state. What would be interesting would be to consider illustrations of freedom in the light of what seems to me to be a fuller understanding of human freedom, one which goes beyond the scope of what the state can aim to provide, as articulated by Catholic Social teaching.
You can see more of Deborah Samia's work on her website, deborahsamia.com.